I’ve come to accept that no matter what I do, I’m going to have bad days. There are going to be times when the anxiety becomes so bad, I lose my focus and don’t know what to do with myself.
In these moments, I used to walk aimlessly around my apartment. I’d get it in my head that I should make tea and sit down to read, but on the way to setting that up, I’d realize it was more important to get some work done. But what exactly should I do? While contemplating that, I’d come to the realization that I did, indeed, need a break. I’d go to watch television and then decide that would be a massive waste of time, so back to thinking about work. Or cooking! Maybe I should make soup!
This was ridiculous, tiring and frustrating as fuck.
Sometimes, I’d do this in the kitchen when deciding what to eat. Comfort food? Something healthy? A quick snack? A full meal? Something simple to prepare? Something that was more of a time commitment but would be fun?
Inevitably, this would lead to a panic attack. My anxiety would spiral so out of control because of my indecisiveness about how to deal with it, that I’d end up lying in bed, starring at the ceiling.
Through some research on dealing with anxiety, I got a lot of excellent tips. I took some info here and there from different sources and came up with my own game plan. Now, I have steps to go through when I feel myself getting overwhelmed with anxiety.
1. Do I need to eat or drink something? If yes, I have a box of snacks ready in the cupboard. I’ll randomly grab something from there and have a glass of water. With the hunger and thirst pangs (which I may not have noticed) dissipating, I may calm down and be able to move on with my day. If the answer was no or I don’t feel better after fuelling up, I go onto the next question.
2. Am I freaking out because there’s too much work that needs to be done? If yes, I come up with a manageable to-do list which is often broken down into small steps. For example, if I need to write an article, I break it down as follows: Contact interviewees, schedule interviews, do interviews, outline article, write article, edit article, submit article. While adding these details to my to-do list, I’ll also strike off things that don’t have to be completed that day. On good days I can work 12 or more hours. On bad days, I’m happy just getting the bare minimum done.
3. Am I just really anxious and don’t know why? If the answer is yes, I’m probably at the point where I’d be circling around my apartment in confusion. This is when I bring out my emergency to-do list. I keep a document that outlines all the things that help me feel less anxious when I can’t pinpoint a specific cause for my feelings. Depending on the weather, I choose something from that list and get to chilling out. Once I’m feeling calmer and not on the verge of a panic attack, I’ll revisit my feelings and try to figure out what my problem was. With that information, I can move along to finding a solution.
Ideally, I’d like to stop having bad days. Realistically, that might never happen.
Having this plan in place makes me feel better, during both high and low anxiety times.
Do you have something you do when you’re feeling anxious? I’d love to hear from you!
On this week’s episode of Ramblings from an Anxious Mess, I go into more details about the specific things I do with myself when I’m just too darn messed up to do anything.